New asset guidance could improve bridge access for heavy vehicles

Route assessors and Performance-Based Standards (PBS) specialists may be interested in the latest asset management guidance for road bridges via Austroads.

The apex organisation of road transport and traffic agencies in Australia and New Zealand has published asset management guidance specific for road bridges.

The guideline is reported to promote an engineering approach (engineering principles, knowledge, experience and modelling tools) as being the only robust method for understanding the current and future, condition and needs of a bridge network.

Australia and New Zealand road managers maintain around 70,000 bridges on public road networks according to Austroads.

Austroads Transport Infrastructure Program Manager, Ross Guppy, said that while there are many asset management documents, they are often generic and are not easily applied to specific assets.

“The Austroads guidelines build on foundational documents, such as ISO 550000 and the International Infrastructure Management Manual, to ensure the specific characteristics and unique needs of bridges are considered over their lifecycle,” he said.

Key road bridge characteristics are: their structural capacity to carry heavy loads; the consequences of structural failure; the engineering complexity of structural performance of a wide range of structural types, materials, condition, design loads and actual applied loads; and the high capital value of the asset.

“Expert structural engineering skills and experience are required to maximise heavy vehicle access, and to generally manage and operate bridges safely and efficiently,” said Guppy.

“The guideline defines best practice asset management for bridges, providing a transparent link between investment and outcomes.

“It defines a specific and detailed asset management framework for bridges underpinned by risk management protocols in keeping with ISO 31000.”

Guidance is provided on formal justification of customer levels of service from bridges, optimum maintenance and renewals interventions at the bridge level and at network level, and identifying, evaluating and reporting on bridge risk.

The guideline also promotes the concept of formally measuring asset management performance to differentiate success from failure; demonstrate results that illustrate accountability to customers and stakeholders; and identify gaps or needs that can justify funding.

Last year, Austroads engaged in a strategic review of its guide to traffic management to reflect changes in priorities in road network management and operations.